Improving canola productivity by engineering photosynthesis and resource partitioning

yellow flower field near green grass field
The major goal of this project is to improve canola productivity by enhancing plant photosynthesis and carbon partitioning.

More about the project

The major goal of this project is to improve canola productivity by enhancing plant photosynthesis and carbon partitioning. Canola is a high-value crop for Australia grown for its healthy edible oils and as a source of biodiesel and livestock feed. There is a growing need to increase canola productivity due to higher demand, decrease in arable land and fluctuating future climates. Canola production benefits from accepting and releasing genetically modified varieties for commercial production in Australia and overseas. This precedent provides an easier path to commercialising transgenic traits in canola over other crops. Improving carbon dioxide assimilation via photosynthesis is a logical pathway to improve plant biomass and seed yield. This project investigates the utility of canola lines expressing new transgenes for photosynthesis performance, biomass, and yield under controlled and field conditions. The ultimate goal is to deliver new, more yielding canola lines to breeding programs.

The student will work with Academic and industry partner experts in the area of canola resource allocation, physiology and agronomy to address the following questions using a novel set of transgenic canola lines:

  • What are the limiting steps in photosynthesis and carbon partitioning?
  • How GM canola lines perform compared to elite varieties?
  • Are there any seed yield benefits from specific GM interventions?

Note: The project is currently subject to development and change in collaboration with our industry partners.

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Project supervisor

Robert Furbank

Robert was awarded a Bachelor of Science (first class Honours) from the University of Wollongong, in 1979. He completed his PhD at The Australian National University, in 1982.

Robert is internationally known for his research into aspects of photosynthesis and carbon allocation/transport in crop plants, and understanding and manipulating Cphotosynthesis. He is also part of the CIMMYT led International Wheat Yield Consortium and the IRRI Global Rice Initiative Science Partnership.

He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II research fellowship in 1987 and two ACT ICT Innovation Awards in 2013 and the CSIRO Plant Industry Leadership Award in 2014.

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